The Juneau-Douglas girls basketball team used a strong first and four quarter to beat visiting Soldotna 51-36 Saturday night.
Kendyl Carson finished with 19 points, including 9 from 3 pointers. Sophomore Caitlyn Pusich had 10 points.
The Crimson Bears (12-3, 4-0 Southeast) shot out to a 12-2 lead in the first quarter. The Stars were met with intense defense up and down the court by Juneau’s agile guards, turning the ball over seven times in the first quarter.
Three quarters later, guards Kendyl Carson and Caitlin Pusich spurred a 14-0 run to put away the steadfast Stars.
Soldotna relied heavily on the passing and post play of sisters’ Aliann and Danica Schmidt. The duo combined for 20 points in the losing effort.
“I thought a lot of their points were scored off of our errors,” said Soldotna guard Danica Schmidt. “If we can correct that in the future, we can beat teams like that. … If we can learn to contain players like [Carson], we’ll do a lot better this season.”
Despite leading by 9 at half, the Crimson Bears were not able to run away with the game.
The Stars outscored the Crimson Bears 10-9 in the third quarter. Juneau-Douglas scaled back its full-court press, which allowed Soldotna to execute its half-court offense.
“We’re struggling with some sickness and we ran out of gas,” said JDHS head coach Lesslie Knight said of the decision not to apply full-court pressure throughout the game. “And then once we start subbing in our bench, we’re not as big and fast.”
Aliann Schmidt made both her free throws with 7:23 remaining in the game that made it 34-28.
After a missed Pusich 3-pointer, Aliann made her 3-point attempt and Soldotna pulled within 3. Then the Crimson Bears offense clicked into gear once more, putting the game out of reach.
Knight says her team likes to put up points in a hurry, but needs to recognize when to slow the pace down.
“We rely pretty heavily on Kendyl and its just a matter of recognizing when to pull it back out and to be patient,” said Knight. “She runs a fast break well and she just has to be under control when she’s doing it.”
Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or email@example.com.